Kaspar the Friendly Robot Helps Kids with Autism

The Dallas Morning News

The quest to understand autism and help those who have been diagnosed with it has spawned inspiring creativity. In England, researchers have created a robot, that they’ve named Kaspar that plays with kids with autism. This interactive robot gives kids with autism, who have trouble reading emotions, an extra boost by smiling, frowning and saying, “Hello, my name is Kaspar. Let’s play together.” He laughs when his sides or feet are touched, hides his face with his hands and cries out “Ouch. This hurts.” when he’s slapped too hard. One mom reported that her autistic daughter is “a lot more affectionate with her friends now and will even initiate the embrace.”

via http://dallaslifeblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/03/kaspar-the-friendly-robot-help.html

Combined approach may be better way to treat autism

Children with autism would likely receive better treatment if supporters of the two major teaching methods stopped bickering over theory and focused on a combined approach, a Michigan State University psychologist argues in a new paper.

For years, the behavioral and developmental camps have argued over which theory is more effective in teaching communication and other skills to preschool-aged children with autism. Basically, behaviorists believe learning occurs through reinforcement or reward while developmental advocates stress learning through important interactions with caregivers.

But while the theories differ, the actual methods the two camps ultimately use to teach children can be strikingly similar, especially when the treatment is naturalistic, or unstructured, said Brooke Ingersoll, MSU assistant professor of psychology.

via Combined approach may be better way to treat autism.